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Is Instagram for Business a Waste of Time?

With engagement dropping, is it time to ditch Instagram from your social media strategy?

 

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Instagram for Business

Instagram has over 700 million active monthly users. It’s one of the most popular social media networks, with both business and personal users alike.

Based on this statistic alone, it seems like a no-brainer:

Your target audience uses Instagram – so you should spend loads of time on it.

Right?

But it’s not so simple.

In today’s post, we’re looking at the recent problems faced on Instagram for businesses. Keep reading to learn more about how this could impact your strategy – and what to do about it.

So, what’s the problem?

Over the past year, Instagram has rolled out a few pretty major updates to its algorithm. As a result, users have reported big changes to the way their content is being seen (or not, as the case may be).

This can be frustrating to those of us using Instagram for business. But it’s important to remember the algorithm changes happen for a good reason:

To improve user experience.

Remember, most Instagram users aren’t using Instagram to promote their businesses. But they’re inundated by businesses spamming their accounts – and it gets irritating.

Instagram want to stop this behaviour. Their goal is to minimise the frustration felt by their users, to keep them on the network. Algorithms help them do this.

The algorithm uses a series of calculations to figure out which posts a user is most likely to care about. These posts get displayed at the top of their feed.

The end result might be good for the average user.But those using Instagram for business have reported a significant drop in organic reach and engagement.

But does this mean you should give up entirely on Instagram for business?

Short answer:

Hell no.

Instagram is still a valuable network for many business owners. But it’s important to remember it’s not a get-rich-quick solution.

Here are a few pointers if you want to make Instagram work for your biz:

1. Stop taking it out on the powers that be.

There’s no point getting all pissy about the algorithm changes.

We get it. You’ve developed a strategy that works, only for it to change over night.

It’s frustrating – but that’s how online marketing works.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking at social media, website design or SEO. Nothing stays the same – and you have to adapt and evolve along with the rest of the digital marketing world.

We’ve seen all sorts of theories, pointing the finger at Instagram.

“They’re deliberately making organic reach worse, so we’re forced into paid advertising.”

Guess what? Instagram are a business.  Paid advertising is how they make their money.

That’s no secret – but, if you’re still complaining about this, you’re missing a vital point:

The algorithms exist for a reason.

And, if you work with them, this can work in your favour too.

(which brings us on to our next point…)

2. Make sure you’re working WITH the algorithm!

Our golden rule of Instagram for business:

Stop being spammy.

The follow/unfollow tactic seems to be growing in momentum, but it’s one of the least effective strategies we’ve seen.

If you haven’t heard of it – it involves following loads of accounts, hoping a few will follow you in return. After a certain amount of time, you unfollow them. In theory, this will leave you with an impressive follower:following ratio.

Only, it doesn’t work like that in practice. Not only is it annoying and ineffective, it’s also one of the easiest ways to get noticed by Instagram’s spam filters.

When Instagram tighten up the algorithm, they’re working to create an authentic space for their users. Using underhand techniques goes directly against what they’re trying to achieve. And it could cost you.

For example, the Instagram shadowban has been catching users out for a few months now. When you’re ‘shadowbanned’, you’re blocked from certain features of the app. And your organic reach and engagement will plummet as a result.

This happens when your behaviour catches the attention of algorithms and filters designed to keep the app spam-free. Take the time to understand the algorithms, and what they’re trying to achieve – then plan your Instagram strategy to comply.

3. Focus on creating real connections

On social media, it’s tempting to play the numbers game.

Whilst audience size is an important factor – it’s not the be-all-and-end-all. In fact, if you spend all your time and resources growing your audience, it’s likely your ROI will suffer.

Impressive numbers don’t mean anything if they’re not getting real results.

Instead, take time to nurture your existing connections. Get to know your audience on a deeper level, and give them chance to really connect with your brand.

The way you go about this will depend entirely on your business model, but here are a few pointers:

Make use of all the features Instagram has to offer.

Instagram Stories and Instagram Live are growing in popularity. Within 8 months of the feature going live, it had become more popular than Snapchat – its main competitor.

Instagram want you to use these new features, so they’ll reward you (with more organic reach) when you do.

As we’ve already mentioned, the world of social media marketing is evolving constantly. if you want to stand out, you need to evolve with it. The days of perfectly curated feeds are over. It’s time to get real with your audience, and connect with them on a new level.

Don’t just sell.

This rule applies to all types of social media marketing. But it’s especially important for getting results on Instagram right now.

People don’t want to be sold to. They want to connect with brands that have something to give them.

Each time you share something on Instagram – whether it’s a traditional post or a story – ask yourself one question:

What value does this provide?

It can be educational, informative or entertaining. But if you’re not giving something to your audience, it’s not gonna work.

This is where your social media strategy comes in. If you’ve done this right, providing value to your audience while promoting your products will come naturally. If it doesn’t, it might be time to get back to the drawing board.

Engage.

Stupidly simple – but it’s amazing how many business owners don’t do it:

Engage with your audience.

If someone messages you or comments on a post, reply.

If they share something that interests you, let them know.

The most successful online businesses take time to connect with their audience every day. It’s simple, and it doesn’t take long, but it pays.

The bottom line…

Successful Instagram marketing takes some work, and it’s not for everyone.

But if you’re tenacious with your approach, and avoid the temptation to take shortcuts, you absolutely can get some incredible results.

Want to know more about how to make it work? Sign up to our newsletter, or get in touch to arrange a free consultation.

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GET MORE TIME TO WORK ON YOUR BUSINESS.

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